Compassion Fatigue in Nurses

Traumatic events not only affect the traumatized individuals, but also those caring about them. Helping someone through a trauma can give rise to feelings of stress, guilt and distress. This is especially true in situations where individuals cannot be rescued or saved from harm.  

Nurses may disengage and turn off their feelings or experience helplessness and anger. Several factors can trigger compassion fatigue, such as working in a hospice or with chronically ill children. Personal aspects such as overinvolvement, unrealistic self-expectations, personal commitments and personal crises can also be linked to compassion fatigue.

Problems with the system (i.e. heavy patient assignments and overtime), feeling that one’s actions don’t make a difference, identifying with the patient and overlooking serious symptoms can be experienced as stressful care situations.

Experiences of frustration, anger and helplessness are not unique for nurses. Previous research shows that psychiatrists have high rates of severe depression, suicide and compassion fatigue.

Different coping strategies were seen in nurses, such as changes in personal engagement in the patient or situation, asking collegues for help and extra curricular activities.

This shows that not only patients and their relatives experience stress and frustration in care situations, but also health professionals. It can be good to remember that we are all human and that most people like to feel acknowledged, needed and appreciated.

Source: Edmunds, M.W. Caring Too Much: Compassion fatigue in Nursing. Appl Nurs Res. 2010; 23:191-197.

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This entry was posted in English, Health Care, Research, Suicide and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Compassion Fatigue in Nurses

  1. william wallace says:

    Of course one need respect those whom
    work under very testing circumstances
    aware of the emotional stress involved.

    However that being not used as a cover
    in allowing excuses for those whom are
    in the wrong employment whom / lack
    basic necessary skills needed required.

    In the health service very high numbers
    lie about their quilifications. /Its allowed
    because the managment of hospitals etc
    having great difficulty in filling the posts
    thus turn their blind eye to the problem
    a problem in resulting in many lifes that
    being needlessly lost / as injury done to
    the many in botched operations / wrong
    doses of medication *etc in proving fatal.

    Many have such bogus qualifications in
    truth they could not trust them taking
    your dog for a walk / as less in trusting
    them with your /physical /mental care.

    With the Social Services over decades
    it has become the value of staff is not
    based on qualifications/ but on whom
    knowing whom (nepotism is rife). It’s
    an dire situation / social workers are
    so under qualified. / Yet its be an job
    for life once employed / in removing
    them then almost almost impossible.

    Complaint against social workers are
    being held behind closed doors /such
    complaints be judged by their fellow
    social workers whom are but equally
    incompetent/ all lacking true value.

    Of course praise those being worthy
    yet dont use a wide blanket /giving
    praise where simply/ not deserved.

    Health Service as Social Services
    both be long overdue a complete
    overhaul/ removing those whom
    simply not qualified for the work.

    In bringing about/contracts that
    allow the failing / to be removed.

    Where employment is based on
    genuine qualifications / not that
    of fiction / as based on nepotism.

  2. I agree with you here William
    “Complaint against social workers are
    being held behind closed doors /such
    complaints be judged by their fellow
    social workers whom are but equally
    incompetent/ all lacking true value.”

    how does “peer evaluation/review” function to determine the misdeeds of a colleague”

    It’s “the fox guarding the chicken coop”

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